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"Airplane Landing" "Sunset"

Southwest Lands at Wrong Airport; Passenger Sues

As reported by the Branson Tri Lakes News, a passenger on a Southwest flight in 2014 that landed at the wrong airport is suing the airline for $74,999.99.

The plaintiff, Troy Haines, was returning from Chicago to Branson Airport. But the flight crew mistook the M. Graham Clark Airport, about seven miles away, for Branson, and landed the plane at Clark instead.

Because the Clark runway was 1,000 feet shorter than what B737s normally require, the full power of the jet’s speedbrake, thrust reversers, and autobrakes was necessary to bring the plane to a violent stop, spewing baggage around the cabin and shaking passengers in their seats. The passengers were then left to sit in a smoke-filled cabin for two hours.

According to Haines’ petition, he suffered “mental anguish, fear and anxiety” for months thereafter, and has been unable to fly for business, which forced him to transfer to a lower-paying job. He expects to incur further medical expenses in the future.

Most of the facts in the case are uncontested. At the time, Southwest apologized, refunded passengers’ tickets, and offered them a travel credit as a “gesture of goodwill.” Whether Haines deserves extra compensation will presumably depend on the verifiable extent of his injuries and economic loss.

Reader Reality Check

Does Haines deserve the $74,999.99 he’s demanding?

More from SmarterTravel:

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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